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Full of colour and life Coral Reefs

Home to the most southern outcrop of tropical coral

Hear all about it!

Rottnest Island is temperate environment and is unusual because it has reefs built by tropical corals like the ones found in the warmer northern parts of Western Australia on the Ningaloo reef.

The reason Rottnest’s unique coral reefs form is because of the Leeuwin Current, making Rottnest home to the most southern outcrop of tropical coral. The Leeuwin Current brings warm water and coral spawn from tropical areas down the coast, creating warmer temperatures which are suitable for the spawn to settle and build coral reefs.  

Tropical corals and fish occur in most areas around Rottnest but Parker Point, Little Salmon Bay and Salmon Bay are especially rich.

Rottnest Island is home to 25 species of coral. Pinkish and brownish branching Cauliflower Coral of the Pocillopora sub-family can be commonly seen. Brain Coral and Plate Coral are also noticeably present. The more unusual pale green Mound Coral and dark blue Bushy Acropora Coral are beautiful additions to Salmon Bay.

Coral reefs are a habitat filled with colour from the corals themselves and many other marine animals they support. The many nooks, crannies and caves provide a base for algae and molluscs as well as providing protection for crustaceans and fish.

The coral polyps themselves are food for some like the Parrotfish. Western Rock Lobsters live under the coral ledges while fish like the Butterflyfish, Sergeant Major and King, Moon, and Red Wrasse swim around and over the reef. The brilliant blue of the Western Blue Devils flash in cave entrances and brightly coloured or perfectly camouflaged Nudibranchs move along the reef feeding on the coral. 

Conservation Status

The waters around Rottnest Island are a designated Marine Reserve. Also, some parts of Rottnest’ coral reefs are included the Marine Sanctuary Zones shown in the Rottnest Island Marine Management Strategy (2007).
  • Extinct
  • Extinct in Wild
  • Critically Endangered
  • Endangered
  • Vulnerable
  • Near Threatened
  • Least Concerned

Protect this sensitive habitat and preserve the Island’s ecosystem by:

  • Do Not stand on or touch coral
  • Do Not Collect coral or shells
  • Do dispose of your litter correctly
  • Do anchor only in sandy areas of water
  • Do snorkel and enjoy the marine environment

Got a suggestion?

We're always open to feedback on how we can improve Rottnest Island for our visitors and wildlife!